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Aboya and UCLA, the perfect match

March 7, 2009 |  1:42 pm

It's hard for me to believe Alfred Aboya is playing his last basketball game for UCLA at Pauley Pavilion today. In all my plenty of years of covering sports, Aboya is among my top five favorites, athletes and coaches, right there with former Marquette Coach Al McGuire, former Temple Coach John Chaney, NBA player and now television commentator Charles Barkley and figure skater Michelle Kwan. OK, make that seven because Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi are in there too.

Each of them was unfailingly generous with their time, incredibly dedicated to their craft and always involved and interested in things other than how their jump shot or zone defense or triple loop or crosscourt backhand was working.

Covering one Alfred Aboya makes it so much easier to hold one's nose and call up an AAU coach named Jazzy to find out what college some 16-year-old may attend and to wish that UCLA Coach Ben Howland had let Aboya talk to the media every day because Aboya has such an old soul and such a kid's sense of humor and such an athlete's competitive spirit. Aboya spoke more evenhandedly and wisely about both Barack Obama and John McCain two weeks before the presidential election than any television commentator.

Aboya has said he'd like to be president of his native Cameroon someday. We'd be lucky if he could be president of the United States. So, good luck, Alfred.

-- Diane Pucin